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The scourge of leafy spurge.

Angora goats, landowners, and Forest Service rangeland managers are joining forces in an uncommon partnership to control leafy spurge.

Two years ago Ron and Jean Peterson of Dickinson, North Dakota, approached the Medora Ranger District with a proposal to graze Angora goats on the Little Missouri National Grasslands. An agreement was struck for 200 goats to graze 100 acres infested with leafy spurge, a perennial weed increasingly common in the north-central U.S.

The Forest Service had been looking for ways to control leafy spurge other than herbicides, which pose environmental problems and are not cost-effective in bottoms and woody draws. Goats, on the other hand, are well suited for grazing such areas. And they show a strong preference for leafy spurge, even to the point of addiction.

"They strip the leaves and eat the flower, and their digestive Systems seem to destroy the seeds to a much greater extent than sheep do," according to range conservationist Mark Hatcher.

The project was so successful that other grazing permittees are expanding the program to 5,000 acres of federal, state, and private lands. These projects are indicative of a growing trend throughout western rangelands-the use of goats, sheep, and cattle to control brush in tree plantations, seed orchards, campgrounds, and firebreaks.

The cost to treat leafy-spurge areas with conventional methods is about $150 an acre and has to be repeated year after year. The goats do the job for $10 an acre.
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Title Annotation:Focus: Partners for the Land; grazing Angora goats to control Little Missouri National Grasslands' infested areas
Author:Miller, Judy
Publication:American Forests
Date:Nov 1, 1990
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